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by Mark Cheffey
The Palmyra City Council reviewed the results of their annual audit during last Thursday’s regular meeting and discussed ways to accommodate some of the report’s suggestions for improving financial record keeping.
The council also approved the mayor’s appointments to the Palmyra Planning Commission, okayed the purchase of a key lock box for the Palmyra Senior Nutrition Center and discussed the possibility of the need to move the annual Taste of Palmyra downtown street fair to Flower City Park.
Paul Richards, of Wade Stables P.C., gave a brief overview of the audit, which covered city financial records for the past fiscal year.
While he said the audit did not find any irregularities in city financial record keeping, he did offer some suggestions for better record keeping, most of which are included on audit reports including having a second person review and sign off on bank transactions, better oversight of city credit cards and segregation of duties to strengthen internal controls.
“We didn’t find anything that would be considered flawed, but we offer some suggestions to avoid problems in the future,” Richards said, noting it is often difficult for small cities to increase internal oversight, given the smaller staffs.
The council discussed the suggestions and, in particular, noted departments could do a better job of keeping and submitting receipts for all credit card transactions.
Richards indicated use of credit cards is a “hyper-sensitive” topic in city finances, and that “it’s a very risky area.”
He said increased diligence in monitoring credit card usage is important for the protection of the city as well as the user.
BPW Superintendent Brent Abell said the liability issues are the key factors in the possibility of moving Taste of Palmyra from downtown to Flower City Park.
Abell said providing electricity in a safe way to all those who need it during the event is difficult to do.
But moving the event, considering how popular and successful it has been downtown, is not a popular choice.
“I don’t want to move it either,” Abell said. “But, we’re going to have to do some things to protect the public.”
While acknowledging the issue, Mayor Rusty Adrian asked for some time before a final decision to move the event is made.
“We need to look into it and not make a hasty decision,” Adrian said, noting the event helps downtown businesses.
Adrian asked that it be studied so a decision could be made by the end of the year.
The council voted 5-1 in favor of purchasing a key lock box as requested by the nutrition center’s board.
Council member Earl Meyers, who also serves on the nutrition center board, said new locks were being installed on the center’s four doors, but was also asking the council to purchase a lock box for a key to be installed outside the building which is owned by the city.
He said emergency services would have use a combination to open the lock box to get a key in order to gain access to the building, preventing the need for having numerous keys made for all who need them.
Council member Brock Fahy, who expressed skepticism the lock box would be useful, was the only member to vote against the approximately $250 purchase.
The council decided to move ahead with attempting to sell a property with a buyer showing interest.
There is some concern about the actual property line, but council members decided to move ahead with putting it up for bid.
Abell reported Nov. 8 is now the target date to start up two of the city’s water pumps in the Mark Bottoms for the first time since they were flooded out in 2019.
The city has received FEMA funding to repair the pumps, and the work is ongoing as the start date approaches.
City Attorney James Lemons updated the council concerning a lawsuit the city has pursued to recover damages resulting from power lines in the south part of the city being pulled down by a vehicle earlier this year.
He said the two sides are still apart on a possible settlement amount.